Andrew East looks back at the Eleventh Doctor comic book adventure, Hypothetical Gentleman.
Hypothetical Gentleman was the first comic story from IDW's Doctor Who (2012) range. It finds the 11th Doctor, Amy and Rory coming up against mysterious goings on at the Great Exhibition of 1851. This is a popular time and place for the Doctor, what with the 7th and 8th Doctors running around the Exhibition (in The Claws of Klathi and Other Lives, respectively) with, possibly, the Paternoster Gang too (the DWM comic strip The Crystal Throne), I wouldn’t be surprised if the next multi-Doctor story is set in and around the great crystal palace. Indeed, the Doctor actually comments that he had better be careful not to run into himself.
Hypothetical Gentleman is firmly entrenched in the Victorian obsession with spiritualism. A medium, apparently fake, but not really, has received instructions for ‘another world’ (apparently in High Gallifreyan) about how to make a strange machine which will allow a being to pass into our world. There is some guff about time being stolen, which apparently freezes the unfortunates that this being touches (including Rory) but when the Doctor’s clever macguffin doesn’t do the trick (because he doesn’t bother to look behind him and gets frozen) all it takes is for Amy to smash the thing to smithereens. The Doctor had said this wasn’t an option initially because he wanted to find out who, or what, was trying to break through (with the Gallifreyan language a hint that it should be someone the Doctor knows). We don’t, however, find out who it is trying to get through. They remain a relatively indistinct, androgynous humanoid form. At the end of the story, they are revealed to have infiltrated the TARDIS and have set up camp inside the time rotor, at this time I have no idea if the being returns in a later IDW story.
To be honest, the TARDIS crew are rather vaguely characterised in this story. Amy is feisty, Rory is a nurse (he stays behind to care for the ailing medium) and the Doctor is twirly. I have been impressed by a lot of the IDW comics I have read but this story was a bit of a disappointment. I also wasn’t keen on the artwork which was rather wishy-washy, particularly in the opening scenes of the ‘sort-of’ fake medium plying her trade to a married couple.
Not much is made of the Great Exhibition setting itself, but we do have some policemen in full Victorian get-up. There is also a race through London to track a trace of artron energy which turns out to be the TARDIS, which someone has moved. It’s a part of the story I didn’t understand and the Doctor comments on how they’ve been on a wild goose chase. Why was the TARDIS moved? Why didn’t the Doctor recognise the artron signature of his own TARDIS?
Historically, aside from the setting of the Great Exhibition, the policemen and the Victorian fascination with the spirit world, there is little else. This story doesn’t have a strong Victorian feel, although its parallels to The Unquiet Dead are interesting (a medium allowing passage for an alien entity into our world).
One other thing is this story’s title. It was quite difficult to resist the urge to write THE Hypothetical Gentlemen every time I typed the title, but it is, in fact, simply – Hypothetical Gentleman. For some reason, this really offends my sensibilities. Must be the English teacher in me…
A primary school teacher and father of two, Andrew finds respite in the
worlds of Doctor Who, Disney and general geekiness. Unhealthily obsessed
with Lance Parkin’s A History, his Doctor Who viewing marathon
is slowly following Earth history from the Dawn of Time to the End of
the World. He would live in a Disney theme park if given half the